Few modern nations in Europe are of such controversial origin as those of Bulgarians. In this respect, we compete with Albanians and Romanians. The problem is compounded mainly by the uncertainty in the ethnogenesis of the Proto-Bulgarians - the tribes, bearers of the native ethnonym.

With the Slavs, who are also part of our roots, things are clear in this respect. The Slavs are part of the local Indo-European population of Europe. They probably originate from the northern part of the continent, suggesting a lighter Slavic gene (light skin, light eyes, blond hair).

Pro-Bulgarian science is especially exciting for researchers and amateurs because it offers the opportunity to empathize in addressing fundamental scientific issues. Where did the Proto-Bulgarians come from? What does their name mean? What language did they speak? More Europeans or more Mongoloids? What is their religion? What is their alphabet (the graphical system they use)?

I will address the problem of the ancient Proto-Bulgarian alphabet, because over the last ten years it has received a special publicity, and also because its unraveling gives us too curious information.

Let us be aware that this is a so-called. "Pro-Bulgarian runes". Most of us are aware of pagan inscriptions from the time before Christianity - those of the Madara Horseman, the Omurtag inscription from the column of "St. Forty Martyrs' in Veliko Turnovo, the Chatalar inscription of Cannes Omurtag, etc.

Copy of the Chatalar inscription at the Pliska Museum

But the famous pagan inscriptions in question were created in the Greek alphabet (alphabet), and in this case I see some not so popular inscriptions that are still looking for a definite read. These are the inscriptions with Pro-Bulgarian runes from the village of Murfatlar, (today Basarab, Romania), Shudikovo, (today Montenegro), Madara, Pliska, etc.

The inscriptions with Pro-Bulgarian runes are interesting because of their originality. In the beginning, all Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions from the pagan period, whether in Greek or Runic, are a remarkable cultural achievement. As one of their researchers, Veselin Beshevliev notes, "If asked, who before the first Bulgarians carved inscriptions on a stone on the Balkan Peninsula, it would appear that only two highly developed cultures - the Ancient Greek and the Roman ones did."

This merit of the Proto-Bulgarians must be strongly emphasized: to the unified Christian civilization center of Europe, the Western Christian - Latin and the Eastern Christian - Greek, the Proto-Bulgarians incorporate their original works of elite pagan art.

We have stated that the inscriptions carved on the stone are not new to Europe - before the settlement of the Proto-Bulgarians they were created in Latin and in the Greek alphabet. When the Proto-Bulgarians came, stones and other solid materials (the famous seven-beam bronze rosette, for example) began to be inscribed with Proto-Bulgarian runic signs.

photo: Bolgari.net / Pliska Roses

The Proto-Bulgarian runic letter was distributed exclusively in places that were part of the First Bulgarian State. Most such inscriptions are found in the rock monastery complex in today's village of Basarab, in North Dobrudzha - more than 60 numbers. From the territory of present-day Montenegro - carved on a stone block in Shudikovo, in the ruins of the Elephant Fortress in the Carpathians, on fragments of clay vessels and tiles in Pliska, on the vessels of the golden treasure from Nad St. Miklos and so on.

The Treasure of Above St. Miklos

The presence of Proto-Bulgarian script among such remote places makes the Runes use by Proto-Bulgarian researchers as an ethnic marker of territorial affiliation with the First Bulgarian Kingdom. The Pro-Bulgarian runic signs on solid objects from the Carpathians, northern Dobrudzha and Montenegro delineate the rather wide borders of the Bulgarian state from the Pliskovsky (681-893) and Preslav (893-971) ѝ metropolitan periods.

It is important to know about the Pro-Bulgarian runes that, despite their early origin, they have been used since the pagan times after the Baptism (after 864). This is evidenced by the many inscriptions in the monastery complex in Murfatlar. This complex was inhabited by monks for the period from the end of IX to the beginning of XI century, ie. after the adoption of Christianity by St. Prince Boris I, during the Golden Age of King Simeon, King Peter I, until the fall of Byzantine rule. The monks settle in an abandoned limestone quarry where they set up their dwellings (monastic cells) and chapels. Because limestone is a very soft rock, it is especially suitable for carving inscriptions. This gives the opportunity for the Bulgarian monks from the end of the IX - the beginning of the XI century to bequeath to us about 60 a number of Runic inscriptions, as well as others in Cyrillic, Glagolitic and Greek letters. There are four graphic systems (alphabets) in the monastery complex of Murfatlar, which indicates the high readability and high culture of the Bulgarians.

Complex view from outside

Researchers of the Proto-Bulgarian runes unite in one - the eastern origin and the eastern influence on the creation of this written culture. Until recently, the listing of Pro-Bulgarian runes in a common group of ancient Turkic runes was not in doubt. Let's see what the historical reasons for this are. Before coming to Danube Bulgaria (present-day Bulgarian lands), since the beginning of the 7th century the Proto-Bulgarians were politically subordinate to the West Turkic Haganate. This tribal union is a separate part of the Turkic (Turkic or Göktürküt) Haganate. Under Kubrat, Asparuh's father, in 632, the Pro-Bulgarians created Old Greater Bulgaria, which had a certain form of independence from the Turks. The contacts and connections of Old Greater Bulgaria with the West Turkic Haganate are very strong, with the great intimacy suggesting some form of kinship, as is claimed by many historians.

Like the Proto-Bulgarians, the Turks create their runic writing. This happens in the eastern part of the vast Eurasian space inhabited by Turks - in the East Turkic Haganate. A testimony and a monument of the Turkic runes are the Orchan-Yenisei inscriptions in honor of Lord Bilge Khan Bengu (716-734), his co-ruler and brother Kul-tegin, their father Ilterish Khan and Grand Commander Toniukuk.

Orhon stone inscription

These historical figures lived around the time in which the Lower Danube Bulgaria was ruled by the Dulo family (Asparuh, Tervel, Cormesius, Sevar). Researchers believe the Dullo genus is Turkic and related to the tribal doula of the West Turkic Haganate. Kinship relations, at least at the level of ruling dynasties, also logically suggest kinship in the graphical system used, especially since the Pro-Bulgarian runes from the Lower Danube Bulgaria and the Orcho-Yenisei in the East Turkic Haganate are almost synchronous in time.

Chapter of the Kul-Tegin Statue, 731

In historical science, however, at this stage, a direct link between the Turkic and Proto-Bulgarian runes is not acceptable to make, at least because Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions cannot be read by the method of Wilhelm Ludwig Thomsen, the linguist who first deciphered the ancient Turkic runes.

If a stylistic linguistic parallel is drawn between the Omurtagh inscription from Veliko Turnovo with the great Greek inscription of the Persian king Shapur I the Great (III c. AD), we will also see a great resemblance. Omurtag's inscription at the end reads: "Let the born later, when he looks at this inscription, remember the one who made it. The name of the ruler is Omortag. "In the Persian inscription we read:" Therefore we commanded that an inscription be written, so that whoever is after us may know our name, our courage and our power. "The conquest policy of the Persian Empire in the Caucasus for a long time creates contact between Proto-Bulgarians and Persians, which surely affects the Bulgarian civilization code, including in the area of ​​pagan stone bas-reliefs: the roots of pagan Bulgarian art in stone processing, whose expression is the Madara Horseman, must to look in ancient Persia.

Madara Rider

Bas-relief of Shapur I

In recent years, a new theory of the origin of the proto-Bulgarian runes has emerged, which has gathered many followers from the scientific circles in history and linguistics. Using the method of the Russian linguist Georgy Turchaninov, modern Bulgarian scholars point out that our runes are part of the Don-Cuban runic script, and the proto-Bulgarians are related to the Alans, Sarmatians and Ossetians, who are Europeans from the Iranian language group. This means that the proto-Bulgarian runes are even more ancient and original, and the influence of Sassanid Persia and the Turkic Haganate is not as great as previously thought. Zhivko Voynikov insists that the origin of the proto-Bulgarian runic script is "connected with the various attempts of Syrian Christian preachers to spread Christianity among the" barbarians "north of the Caucasus in the first centuries of the new era." In this way the proto-Bulgarians were related to the modern Ossetians, Kabardino-Balkars and others. Caucasian peoples, who also once used the Don-Cuban script.

There is still no clarity and unanimity on the Proto-Bulgarian runes. Their mysteriousness attracts a great deal of interest, with a multiplicity of adherents to each of the theories: the Turkic, Sarmatian-Allan, Syrian or Persian influences in the creation of the runes. It is a fact that the Pro-Bulgarian runes are an indispensable cultural factor through which our ancestors 'sowed' knowledge and formed a memory in the future generations of Bulgaria, the Balkans and Europe.

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